Three Little Words

This painting was so endearing that I couldn’t help sharing it with you. It is by French painter Henri Jules Geoffroy (also knowns as Geo), who began his career illustrating children’s books but went on to become known for his ability to capture the innocence of children in their daily tasks of work and play. What secrets are these little soldiers sharing with one another?

While the weapons these little ones garner are harmless, there is one weapon that can cause much damage, and that is the tongue. I’ve written before about how the words we use can be WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Words can also be used to build up, encourage, and heal. Blogger David Timms points out that it doesn’t take a lot of words, just the right ones, to make a difference. He gives the example of how three little words have the power to transform marriages, families, businesses, churches, and countries.

This is what Timms writes:


I am sorry.

Yep. How about these words without any follow-up? No excuses or self-justification. No buts. “I am sorry, but if you knew…, I am sorry, but I only meant…, I am sorry, but I’m not the only one who….” No buts.

I was wrong.

We don’t see this much in the public sphere. Who takes full responsibility for anything these days? Who takes any responsibility? These three words tend to catch in our throats. And when they won’t come out, not much works out.

Please forgive me.

Reconciliation doesn’t happen when people magically agree with us, but when people extend grace to us. These three words ask for the grace that gives life back to our families and friendships.

Can I help?

Think twice before putting these three words out there. We’ve got to mean it; not because we must save the day but because we actually care. Help without care is paternalistic. Care without help is insincere.

Tell me more.

These three words give the floor to the other person; not easy for talkers. They say, “I care” and “You matter.” These three words might need a couch, a cup of coffee, and a real listening ear.

There are plenty of other life-shaping and relationship-changing three-word combos. “I love you. It’ll be OK. Don’t be afraid. I’ll be there. You’re the best.” Yes, I know; lots of contractions!

It’s not the number of words we say, but the kind of words and the heart behind the words. Even declarations of faith can be short and powerful. “He is risen! He is Lord! He’s coming again!” And then some breath prayers we might repeat throughout the day: “Come, Holy Spirit. Yes, Lord Jesus. More of You. Less of me. For your glory. Because of you.”


Being Human Connection: At the end of his blog, Timm asks, “What three words might move you forward in faith, family, or friendship today?” Good thoughts to chew on.

Featured art: Henri-Jules-Jean Geoffroy (Geo), 1853-1924, Le Consigne.

And remember these three things that are hard to say:
1) I’m sorry;
2) I was wrong;
3) Worcestershire sauce.

Happy New Year.